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Ten Minutes With Willie Geist

A broadcast journalist



Willie Geist is host of NBC’s “Sunday Today With Willie Geist,” which covers everything from politics to pop culture, and co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Son of a CBS Newsman and New York Times reporter, Geist has sat down with Justin Timberlake, John Krasinski, Bette Midler, Chelsea Handler, and Bryan Cranston; plus George W. Bush, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman, and others. He and his wife and two young children have a house in South Salem.

“Sunday Today” seems to have good traction. What’s the secret?
We try to give people something they can’t get elsewhere. Our interviews, called the Sunday Sitdown, go deeper and have some incredible people. George W. Bush, Kellyanne Conway, hip-hop stars—driving around with Ice Cube in a ’64 Impala. CEOs of Instagram and Twitter and Airbnb. 

Who have been your favorites?
Anthony Bourdain was a lot of fun. We took his food tour of Queens. Visited a taco truck and ate tongue taco. George W. Bush—it was an honor to visit vets with him; and to just present him with questions about things that have happened in history. I sat across from Michael Stipe of REM in a bar and find out what “Shiny Happy People” is really all about.

Any common themes among them?
They all had a moment when they weren’t going to make it. Ice Cube was going to become an architect. John Krasinski was literally packed up and ready to leave the business when he got called for “The Office.” 

How has social media helped the show?
We do a pretty good job on “Sunday Today.” A part of the show goes onto Facebook Live. It’s a good engagement tool. It’s a pull back on the curtain, behind the scenes. People want another screen going.

Have you had to change your game under Trump?
No, but the firehose of stories—you need to stop and sift through it and provide the most important news, and what’s true and not true. It never rests. 

Is “Morning Joe” fun to do?
It’s always fun to do. We’re coming up on ten years together. At 6 am, there’s a lot of eyeballs on you. And the people making the news are watching. It’s good to know that our show is as influential as it is. And we get to sit there with our friends.

Does it bother you that Joe talks over his guests?
No, he’s pretty good with me. We have six or seven people and we mix it up. It’s Joe’s show. At the end of the day, people find him interesting.

You live a stone’s throw from Ridgefield. Do you spend much time here?
A lot. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law Alison and Andrew Greeley live in town. We go to the Prospector for our movies, the Hideaway for lunch. Patrick greets us at the front door. We love Terra Sole and HooDoo. Kids love the Sweet Shoppe. There’s everything we need. We love Ridgefield.

I hate to be cliche, but at six-feet, four-inches, you probably get asked alot. Ever play hoops?
Oh, yeah. I was captain of my high-school basketball team, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Still love it. Have a hoop in the driveway. My nine-year-old daughter really loves it.

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